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Straight Face - Nigel Hawthorne

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I grabbed this one in the library a couple of weeks ago because it rang quite a large bell. Last year I read Antony Sher's autobiography, Beside Myself and at the time someone on my flist (shooting2kill?) recced Straight Face by Nigel Hawthorne (Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister and King George III in The Madness of King George) as being a similar read. And so it was. There were quite a few similarities in fact. Both men had been brought up in Cape Town, both men are/were gay, and both books contained, as one would expect, an awful lot of theatre talk. Some of which I have to admit I found a little tedious. The most interesting parts to me were the sections about his childhood in South Africa and his insights into being gay when it was against the law to be so. Not that the author lived a particularly racey life... quite the opposite it would seem. There's almost no talk of drink or drugs in this - unlike the Sher autobiography. And Hawthorne didn't find the lifelong partner he craved until he was in his late forties, up to when it sounds as though he lived a pretty chaste sort of life. To tell the truth it seems as though the late actor was a thoroughly nice chap. Jane Laportaire fondly described him as, 'A bit of a fusspot'. *g* Strikes me if that's the worst your colleagues can say about you, you must be one of the good guys. Nigel Hawthorne died of cancer of the pancreas in 2001 - a sad loss to the nation.


Oh this sounds interesting, thanks for the rec. Apart from anything else I like Nigel Hawthorne... And the Pros-y bit of me (never mind the single bit of me!) is very interested in the idea of him finding his life-long partner when he was in his forties (ah, older lads). I shall look this up when I get home!
There's an absolutely adorable photo of him and his partner, Trevor Bentham, in the book, looking so content together. Puts a real smile on your face.
I've got and read this book. It's great, really superb.

What I really liked about it was how self-effacing and honest he seemed and how 'ordinary' and how he wasn't afraid to talk about the bad times and how he struggled rather than just fill it with 'aren't I wonderful'.
Yes, I recall you mentioning it too, but couldn't remember if it was just because you were planning on getting the book or what. Obviously you did. :-)

I liked it for all the reasons you state too. No big 'I am' at all, just an ordinary chap with worries and concerns like the rest of us. He wouldn't even slag off his father who I thought sounded most unpleasant...
A lovely chap, the kind you'd really like to meet.

I'm glad he found his true love in the end, but sad for them that they didn't have long enough together.
I read this a little while ago, and remember being very impressed. There were none of the flamboyant gay actor type anecdotes that sometimes appear. Nigel seemed to be a pretty quiet, celibate sort of man. It was sad that the book was published after his death, if I remember correctly. I think I wrote a review of it, but can't find it now. :/
It was sad that the book was published after his death, if I remember correctly.

You do remember rightly. I gather he only finished the book two days before he died. Terribly sad really.
Thanks for this Caff, very interesting. I *still* haven't read this autobiography yet, but I think I'd like to because Nigel Hawthorne seemed a nice sort of person, someone who you'd like to know a bit more about.

While we're on the subject of the autobiographies of gay actors.....I've just heard that Rupert Everett's is supposed to be very funny and very readable...I'm not sure of the title but it's something about red carpets and banana skins. (Apparently he's quite indiscreet about his various affairs and gossip, generally. Sounds good!)
Yes, I've heard the Rupert Everett autobiography is quite good. I haven't seen that one in the library but as I waited a year for the Nigel Hawthorne one to appear after we discussed it - I shall probably come across it in 2008! ;-)